Workouts: Mind-Body Exercises Boost Body Image (cont.)
Christina Sell, author of Yoga from the Inside Out: Making Peace with Your Body through Yoga, says yoga puts you in the moment.
"It's very here, very now, how you stand on the earth, how the position of the body feels on the mat," says Sell, a certified Anusara yoga instructor. "If you're focusing on the immediacy of the body's sensations and the steadiness of the breath, then the attention rests inside the body as it is, rather than in the mind and its projections and images about what is."
Moroney, who also practices the Chinese art of qigong (a movement, breath and meditation exercise), says that at age 58, she's more at peace with herself than she was at 28.
"I'm learning that the body I have is a reflection of who I am inside," says Moroney, author of Natural Body, Natural Shape: Develop a Strong Self Image, Good Health & Ageless Grace & Beauty through Yoga. "I'm more relaxed and less stressed. I see the world differently."
But it's not just mental, she says. Yoga helps you to become physically stronger, better aligned, and more flexible and that, combined with the release of tension, "causes the natural shape of the body to change," she says.
"When you look in the mirror, you begin to see a younger-looking person. You have better posture. You look thinner. Yoga puts your tummy in place, your butt in place, and reduces stress, and a stress-free face looks younger."
The Power of Pilates
Judy Stanley, 57, had been overweight most of her life. Over the years, she'd tried many types of exercise but never stuck with it.
"I wanted to exercise but I didn't have the energy," says Stanley, a retired schoolteacher. "It didn't feel good."
Then she learned of Pilates through watching an infomercial. It wasn't the exercises that intrigued her as much as the fact that they were done barefoot.
"One of the things I hated most was bending over to put on tennis shoes," says Stanley, who has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Stanley discovered Centerworks Pilates in Wichita, Kan., six years ago and has been practicing Pilates ever since.
"Obviously, I wasn't happy with my size, but that wasn't the biggest motivation," says Stanley. "I was looking for something I'd stick with."
Still, she's seen some weight-loss benefits.
"I've gone down at least three dress sizes and I've not dieted," she says. "As you become firmer and get a little smaller, you tend to watch what you eat. I'm more conscious of what I put in my mouth."
Stanley's teacher, Aliesa George, is quick to clarify that Pilates isn't designed for weight loss, though that is often a byproduct.
"Getting that mental focus to pay attention to what's going on with the body helps you to get in touch from the inside out," George says. "Once you get control of the body, and of finding the right muscles to put the body into the positions, you realize you can control other things in life."